PITTSBURGH - Last week, in a first for the U.S., President Barack Obama announced a national strategy to boost travel and tourism in the United States.
According to a White House statement, the initiative calls for a national strategy to make the United States the world's top travel and tourism destination - as part of a comprehensive effort to spur job creation. The number of travelers from emerging economies with growing middle classes - such as China and Brazil - is projected to grow by 135 percent and 274 percent respectively by 2016 when compared to 2010.
"The fact that President Obama recognizes the economic benefit of the travel and tourism industry reinforces VisitPittsburgh's important mission: to bring conventions and leisure travelers to the Pittsburgh region," said Joe McGrath, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh.
"This first-of-its-kind order demonstrates that governmental efforts will soon be underway to significantly increase travel and tourism in the United States," McGrath continued. "This important step will enhance national and international travel to Pittsburgh and reinvigorate the entire U.S. travel trade industry. We are happy to be partnering with the U.S. Travel Association on this important initiative."
In his remarks made in Orlando, Fla., the President stated, "Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs."
McGrath noted that travel and tourism in Pittsburgh directly supports 62,000 jobs, $2 billion in wages and direct spending of $4.7 billion for the area; and the U.S. travel industry is already a cornerstone of the U.S. economy, representing 1.8 trillion in economic output and supporting 14 million American jobs.
President Obama will also sign an Executive Order charging several government agencies to take part in efforts and new initiatives to significantly increase travel. Some of the initiatives include: a new pilot program and rule change for visa processing in China and Brazil; a final rule to expand and make Global Entry program permanent and the nomination of Taiwan to the Visa Waiver Program. In 2011, the number of international arrivals to the United States from the People's Republic of China and Taiwan exceeded 850,000. This number is expected to increase to nearly 3 million arrivals by 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
'This is the first time our country has had a national strategy and set goals for the amount of visitors we want to welcome to our country. The timing of the President's announcement could not be better. Travel is an essential industry for our nation and a bipartisan issue that can unite our country,' said Roger Dow, president and CEO for the U.S. Travel Association.